Cabaret Mechanical Theatre presents the Fantastic Fairground Factory at Tullie House Museum, a brand-new exhibition exploring the secrets of the fairground with interactive exhibits designed to bemuse, baffle and bewilder.


This summer the Fantastic Fairground Factory exhibition brings all the fun of the fair to Tullie House with automata and interactive games to inspire and amaze. Families can explore the well-loved characters and sideshows found at the fairground with a collection of beautiful and amusing automata and awe-inspiring optical illusions. Then get hands-on and discover the science of the sideshow with a shadow puppet theatre, helter-skelter marble run and traditional fairground games in a fun-filled exhibition for all ages to enjoy.

Fantastic Fairground Factory opens on Saturday 29 June and runs throughout the summer holidays until Sunday 6 October. The exhibition will feature 30 stunning, intricate and interactive automata inspired by the fairground, created by renowned and international artists. Large scale interactives will provide visitors with a better understanding of the secrets and science behind the art of automata.

Tullie House are looking forward to hosting another Cabaret Mechanical Theatre exhibition after the success of Mechanical Circus, an interactive exhibition of historical and contemporary automata which attracted over 12,000 visitors when it was on show at the Museum in 2014.

Sarah Alexander of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre explained “We are delighted to be returning to Tullie House with this exciting new exhibition. Automata from our collection made by 13 different artists, including Paul Spooner, Ron Fuller and Peter Markey, will be brought to life in a fairground atmosphere, with clever illusions, a chance to test a fairground ride, create a mechanical shadow puppet show and use gears and pulleys to reveal your future on our new Wheel of Fortune.  A wonderful collision of art, science and fun!” 

The exhibition includes some fairground favourites:

  • Discover the wonders of gravity with an interactive helter-skelter marble run.
  • Baffle the senses with optical illusions and the Hall of Mirrors.
  • Discover characters and tell stories with a mechanical shadow puppet theatre.
  • Get a glimpse into the future and have a go on the Wheel of Fortune.
  • Impress with games of skill to test reflexes and nerves of steel. 

Charli Summers, Programme Manager at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery said: “We are thrilled to be working with Cabaret Mechanical Theatre again following 2014’s Mechanical Circus exhibition. The automata and interactive games really make art, science and engineering fun and accessible for our family audiences. We are looking forward to an exciting summer”

Opening weekend

Saturday 29 June

  • First look at the Fantastic Fairground Factory exhibition
  • Drop-in craft sessions between 1pm-4pm
  • Bookable, Junk Modelling Automata workshop**

Sunday 30 June

  • Fun fairground games for the whole family*
  • Bookable, Junk Modelling Automata workshop**
  • Spectacular performances from Euphoric Circus performers

Fairground amusements in the museum gardens including face painting